Animal Collective Rides Vinyl Wave into ‘09, Massive 2008 Vinyl Sales Figures Confuse Everyone but B-52s Fans

According to a Rolling Stone blog post detailing the Soundscan numbers for new vinyl sales in 2009, staples like Radiohead and even Neutral Milk Hotel may have assisted in the boost in LP sales in the last 12 months. As reported earlier this week (TMT News), vinyl sales nearly doubled in 2008, and the Soundscan breakdown reveals that Radiohead are responsible for not only the biggest vinyl seller of the year—2007's In Rainbows (TMT Review), which debuted in the format on January 1, 2008 — but also the tenth, with OK Computer selling just under 10,000 copies. Beatles and Pink Floyd reissues from Capitol Records captured the second- and seventh-place slots respectively, while NMH's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea — a touchstone for the new generation of vinyl purchasers — claimed sixth.

Curiously, Guns N' Roses' long delayed and recently released Chinese Democracy (TMT Review) nabbed the third-place slot, despite its poorer-than-predicted general chart performance. Portishead's Third (TMT Review), which grabbed the title of TMT's second-favorite album of the year (TMT Feature), landed at an impressive fifth with about 12,000 LP sales. The most baffling figure, however, must be the inexplicable fourth-place ranking of the B-52s' 2008 comeback album Funplex, which most people reading this story probably didn't know existed until this moment. Fleet Foxes and Metallica round out the top ten with eighth- and ninth-place sales, respectively, for their 2008 albums.

Meanwhile, according to MTV News, it appears that at this time next year we could be looking at Animal Collective in the #1 slot for vinyl sales. Indeed, it looks like the group may be poised to even dent in next week's Billboard charts on the strength of vinyl sales alone. AC's highly anticipated Merriweather Post Pavilion (TMT Review) was released in a deluxe vinyl edition (albeit one accompanied with a free digital download of the album) on Tuesday, two weeks ahead of its CD release. The initial run of 4,500 copies is already sold out, which, according to MTV's estimates, could easily place the LP at around #160 on the Soundscan charts. However, it's also possible that a substantial chunk of sales could go uncounted, as many indie stores do not report to Soundscan.

Still, the tantalizing prospect of an album charting entirely on the basis of vinyl sales provides a strange (and, if I do say so myself, totally awesome) twist on the most turbulent decade the popular music industry has seen. If Merriweather's vinyl success does prove a critical moment in the vinyl resurgence, we may be looking at a sort of smaller-scale inverse of Radiohead's In Rainbows gambit — all the more interesting given that album's apparent role in the LP sales spike. This strange mutation in sales trends may even find indie labels, who routinely press vinyl runs of their releases for collectors and aficionados, at a slight physical sales advantage over majors hung up on digital business. However, it's easy to get carried away -- with 51 weeks left in 2009, it's hard to say where the vinyl boost is headed this year. But for those keeping score, make sure to keep an eye on the bottom quarter of next Wednesday's Billboard 200.

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